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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 30, 2010 9:45am-10:30am EST

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as most of you know, we have celebrated 25 years of politics and prose and this is the penultimate event in a lot of ways. herb bloch was generous enough to come to our store and find when we were just opened that fall, haynes johnson has been coming to present his will since the first one that he wrote after we were open, the landing with howard simon. this seems like the absolute perfect event to encapsulate our history. too bad herblock isn't with us in person but it is great to
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have his spirit lives on. most of you know haines from his book and he says he is still promoting the book that he and dan washington post wrote on the 2008 campaign. i am sure we have copies in the front tonight. haines was a political reporter with the washington star when i first met him. he has written -- get this -- 16 books. some of which were co-authored with pierce. i was thinking it is a tribute to haines that so many of the books, not a majority but so many were written with other
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journalists. herb bloch was born in 1909 and he died in 2001. in between, he had a long and glorious career. he joined the washington post after serving in world war ii. his cartoons were so brilliantly thought out that he often defined the time. he is credited with inventing the expression mccarthyism in a 1950s cartoon. he won the pulitzer three times including 1964 after he published the defining cartoon on john kennedy's assassination, lincoln at the memorial weeping. many of her block's cartoons are etched in our memory. this generous book that haines has produced contains many of herlock's drawings and excellent
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explanatory text. the narrative gives us a historical context for the cartoons especially for people who weren't there and didn't live this period. i think they will enjoy this. for those of us who did live the period the book helps us to remember and relive the times. we were talking before we came out and i was saying one of the things the book offers is the chance to -- the realization that there have been other bad times in american history when people were really acting in x ways to one another and
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herblock's cartoons are so evocative. he wants to talk to us about this. i think this book will endorse and hopefully be used to teach history classes. college professors -- makes it easier for college professors to give a book of cartoons to their students. i think that we owe haines a great deal of gratitude. it is great to have you with us tonight. [applause] >> thanks. i feel like i am coming home here. this is the first time -- third time i have had politics and prose and never two book that one. it is a strange feeling but it
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has been wonderful. i repeat what i said when i came here before. i love this place. this is why you write books. you want to have people come out on a miserable night because they believe in trying to listen to somebody express what they have tried to do in words. it is a wonderful thing. i didn't realize that and 11 -- when you first open up the place, we have been friends before we opened the shop. i want to talk about the book. what we tried to do, this was put out -- i am a member of the board of directors of the
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herblock foundation. we decided the foundation was created after he died. this is weird. i got a call. i came back to go to his funeral. i got a call from a lawyer who said he had left money to create a foundation in his name to carry on the causes he believed in. civil-rights, freedom the personal freedom of the press, all those good things. your name was the first on the list of those suggested board of directors. i was incredibly flattered. i loved herb. we created this herblock foundation. i asked the lawyer how much money herblock left to the foundation. i heard him say $5 million.
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fifty million dollars. my god! he worked on the washington post his whole life. and it was all in washington post stock. i didn't get that one. when herblock was hired by katharine graham's brand father, the paper wasn't making any money at all. we had printers' retired as millionaires. he took this money and back were the foundation money came from. we are giving away because we believed in. to remind people of who herblock was and who he stood for, he would be 100 years old this october 13th, a couple weeks ago. we created a lecture for herblock. a big award for a cartoonist.
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the senator spoke to was. all kinds of wonderful lecturers giving awards. we also thought about creating a book to show people what herblock did. that was the background for this effort. it is a collaborative effort on the part of the foundation. i did the writing on the narrative and tried to put it into context. i am very proud of this book. really proud of it. if you look at it, this is a piece of history. you look at the range of herblock, he would be 100 years old now but his career as a cartoonist started with the crash in 1929. you have here cartoons that began with the stock-market crash. the rise of hitler and mussolini in the early period all the way
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through leading up to world war ii. decade after decade after decade. the memorable drawings of that period, you see the people and characters. he caricatured everybody of consequence in the world. mussolini couldn't make the transport on time. it is -- and of course herblock with joe mccarthy. one of my favorite cartoons, i did a book on mccarthyism. joe gave this infamous speech to a women's group in west virginia in which he held in his hand, i have here the names of 205 traders who are at this moment operating out of the state department of the united states fashioning our policies and so forth. there was no list. he had no names.
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was all a lot. that became mccarthyism right there. the republican leaders are pushing him forward. f-series of ten buckets with tom are easing down. it was named mccarthyism. is part of the language. that was what shawn martin was brilliant for. capturing a moment in time and making it a part of our history. it was an irreplaceable gift.
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he did this decade after decade after decade. i found myself fascinated. there are 218 dvds of herblock cartoons and 200 that you will see that go from the beginning, the early -- i tried to write a narrative about who he was and a capsule of the times. the war, vietnam, etc. civil-rights, the mccarthy period, fear. herblock died a couple weeks before 9/11. you have an extraordinary range of history captured in these cartoons. i hope you will find it of interest. it is the kind of thing that will serve as a reminder.
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i want to talk about herblock rhythm-and-blues great cartoonist he was, boy from chicago. it is so interesting that "the protest psychosis: how schizophrenia became a black disease" 11 was this unpatriotic liberal and so forth a. he was a boy of the middle west. herblock grew up in the political party. that was a different republican party at the time. you can look at the changes in his style. when i came to washington in 1957 i had never met herblock but my father was an admirer of his. i was from new york. herblock's cartoon that appeared every day in the new york post
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which was the most liberal paper. hard to believe. now it is the murdoch paper. herblock was a great figure. i met herblock when i was a young reporter and he was complimentary of what i was doing on civil-rights. when i came to the post in 1969, we were on the same paper until the end. we became very close. i will tell you something i can't get over. everyday around 5:00, in front of my office i see this figure standing there, shy, holding up -- it was herblock. he said 5:00. the deadline for the morning newspapers in two hours. and he had in his hand five
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different statues for cartoons for the next day. he did this every day. he parse them out like playing cards. it with a great tribute to you if he wanted you to tell him what you really thought. i wasn't the only one he did this to. i gave a speech in new york monday night and one of the people who is in extremely well-known science writer was a young reporter on the post and he did it to the reporters too. he came out during the day if i drew something on the environment or whatever or technology, do i have this? a great reporter. it wasn't just off the top of his head. the idea of parsing out and going to his office, sitting where at the next day's cartoon. i don't know of anything like
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that. herblock lived on and on, early 1970s around the time of watergate. an annual private dinner party upstairs in the board room at the post in honor of herblock. all of the young talented cartoonists in the country became famous, some are gone already. one of them was going to be herblock's successor. he outlasted all of us. .. was able to take
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his place because he just kept going and going and going. decade day after day, week after week. month after month, year after year. decade after decade. and it was an incredible thing to see. but what you will see in these drawings of cartoons, it really is a portrait of everything. it isn't just the "times" the famous or infamous figures. i love early on -- in one of these early cartoons and i was fascinated to go through and see -- when he had the rise of hitler. and he has this little figure marching on the stage in 1932. before hitler became the head of germany. and then you look a couple pages later and he's got hitler with a
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tommy gun standing up over a globe about to explode, 1934. and herb was in those days and to the end of his life, he was trying to warn america of the dangers of nazism and the terrorism that might be involved with the world war. and to wake us out of our isolationism and our rejection of the world around us and so forth. and i find it just incredible because he would keep doing this. and the portrait are terrific. the nixon ones are just too much. i mean, cry me out of the sewer. but the one i put up on my wall -- a couple days days -- this is where herb -- herb had a sense -- a pressien. he could foresee events. the day after the watergate break-in, june 17th, i think i was assistant manager of the paper at the time. and herb did a cartoon of the white house. it's in there. the white house, there's the white house. and then there's a gum oe, a
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guy looking -- a detective -- he's got footprints leading back and forth from the white house. it's strange they all seem to be connected to the place. there were crimes -- [laughter] stfter the break-in. just incredible. and that was his gift. i do think that you will find -- and i will you will share my enthusiasm and the belief of why he was a great cartoonist -- herb wasn't a great cartoonist, he was a great writer. we get the foundation -- we donated 14,000 cartoons at the library of congress. there's a big exhibit up there right now. and his writings -- he did a number of books. he was a very good writer also. a terrific writer. a good speaker. the shy guy. and the other thing -- there's some lessons about a herblock. when mr. meyer, gene meyer, katherine's father, this very
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rich republican banker -- the head of the federal reserve board made millions from jp morgan in 1900 for god's sakes. but when he hired herb and he bought the "post" at public auction. it was not a bad deal. he knew what he was getting. and when he did that and when he met herb right after the war, herb was looking to go back in cartooning. he already was a famous cartoonist. but he was looking for something different in another paper. and they met at the yale club, i think it was, typical herb in his army uniform. mr. meyer in his very, you know, vest and so forth, proper, and mr. meyer told him -- he said, i want you to look at us and see if you like us and i'm going to send you copies of the paper. we look at you and we like you. i hire people and i'm never going to tell you what to draw. i don't have any idea or suggestions for you. i want toe good people and let them do their work alone.
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wow! you can't ask for more of that as a writer and a cartoonist. other newspapers, they're part of the editorial apparatus, the owner and so forth. they sit in -- the other cartoonists sit in with them and editorial board meetings when they decide with a editorial and cartoon -- herb never sat in one single editorial board being. he was a free agent. as katherine would say, he was the kind of person that he was best -- and i believe we want to celebrate talent and let them do their job. that's why it was a great place to work and why i was proud to work with. and it gave herb this incredible range of freedom that i don't know if it could happen today. it would happen at the "post" for don graham and his nephew -- niece, rather. but this is so unusual in american journalism. this freedom to be right, to be wrong. and they never -- even though
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the grahams and kay did not agree with it, never once was a problem of the cartoon with herb. i think that's a great lesson. i also have to say that i thought about herb a lot in this process. and you look at where -- what we're going through right now. this is a reminder -- this is pretty tough times for the country. we're in real trouble. there's no -- and all kinds of conditions. at home and abroad. and no matter who is president, before or during the book on -- with dan, of the election, that no matter who was going to be president right now was going to face the most difficult contentious times since franklin roosevelt in 1932. there are no easy solutions. wars abroad, the economy at home. the disaffection of the country. the feel the politics is broken and more vicious and vile and
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tearing apart all the country and the disaffection of the united states. so this is a tough time. but i thought if you look through the history of this period that herb so brilliantly drew, captured, we went through enormously difficult times. from the great depression to world war ii, to the vietnam period, civil rights.meñ nobody was more courageous than herb on civil rights and the drawings of them and you'll see them. they're just terrific. and all this. so we did go through a lot of very, very tough times. we always surmounted them. and i also have to say -- i thought about this a lot, carla, and looking at the book, i even -- even though i did the writing on this thing, i sat at home and i looked at the cartoons, that's great and i find things in them and i hadn't seen before. i admire them very much. my feeling is, oh, if herb were only around today. [laughter]
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>> what a canvas he would have. wouldn't you love to see herb on sarah palin. or glenn beck. or bill o'reilly. or you name it. the whole -- the haters. the tea party, the baggers, all this stuff. it is made for herb absolutely. he did get at w. toward the end. this is the time herb we needed -- we really need him very much. and so i hope you will find this of interest. and take pride in it as i do trying to put out this book on behalf of our foundation. and in memory of herb. he lives on. there's -- i ended my -- i don't like to read things i've written myself. but the -- the last line of my essay about herb and then i do sort of a section on the various
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periods leading up to the cartoons. but, yeah, here it is right here. i talk about herb just before he was going to die. i said herb was a perfectionist also dissatisfied with his daily product. often wishing he had the opportunity to redo and strengthen his cartoon. but then in a philosophic mood he would take comfort in the knowledge that if his cartoon didn't come out just wait he wished, well, it was always a fresh sheet of paper and a chance to have another shot at it tomorrow. as he wrote in the closing pages of his autobiography, tomorrow! i said herb the man there is no more tomorrow. in celebrating of timeless work for herblock, the cartoonist and others who follow in his foot steps and fighters for freedom and opponents for oppression
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there is always a tomorrow. thanks very much for coming. blue applause [applause] and if there are questions, i would love to entertain them. >> i would like to make a comment and his question. not all his cartoons were political. one i remember the occasion of albert einstein's death. he had this magnificent cartoon. he showed the earth and the memorial tablet albert einstein lived here. >> you're absolutely right. >> that was a beautiful cartoon. >> herb had a range of things. he had one with the apollo shot. it's beautiful. a hand is reaching up in the globe in the stars. and he did that kind of thing regularly. so it wasn't just a political cartoon on politicians of the moment. >> then there was one cartoon that i heard spoken of but i was told it was so explosive and the "post" would never publish it.
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this was after eisenhower had his heart attack. and the story goes that -- i read a description of the cartoon. it showed nixon and eisenhower at the bottom of a long flight of stairs leading to the second inaugural platform and nixon turns to him and says i race you to the top. is that a true story? >> if it is, i don't know it. i never come across that before. and never heard it from tonight and i thought i knew a lot about herb. there was one time -- only once in all of his time at the "washington post" with the freedom he was given -- first by mr. meyer and then by -- then by phil, katherine's husband and then kay and then finally don and right into this period and that was the "post" endorsed eisenhower in '52. and herb was fa-natcally -- he didn't hate eisenhower but he was for stevenson and he drew
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cartoons and phil graham did not want to run the cartoons and herb said i'll run it out in the syndicate and phil gramm said we need you. come back. if it's true, i didn't know that. >> i would like to know your opinion of tom who is there now in herblock's place? >> the question is, my opinion of tom toles who is herb's successor. tom was hired by us from the buffalo paper as a cartoonist. he is a totally different stylist and all that. i like tom. he's a friend. i admire his work. it took me a while to get used to tom, frankly. but i think he's brilliant. and i like his stuff. it's totally different. i'm not sure they laid out the page now. he's submerged but i like that at the top. >> so do i?
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>> this is me. i no longer have anything to do with those things. tom -- i have great respect for tom but totally different style. and i think meg greenfield who was also attending those dinners that kay would give -- she was one influential at picking tom toles when she was the editor for the editorial page and i like his stuff very much. >> just to comment and then sort of a question about what we've been talking about. the first that indeed he was a chicago boy. he went to -- he went to a school which is down the block from where i grew up. and he went to school with the father of a friend of mine who tells -- who was also an artist. who tells the story that indeed the high school -- it's called sen high school in chicago in glennwood. and it turns out herb was thrown off the newspaper there, the student newspaper, but it wasn't for anything that he drew. it was actually for something that he wrote.
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and which was -- which is one of the great ironies. >> that's funny about -- herb started out -- his brother, bill, was a well-known reporter, top reporter for the "chicago tribune." a political reporter. his father, herb's father had been a chemist and inventor and an artist and had been a reporter himself at some point. so he had this background. and herb did as a high school would write things for the chicago paper and they started publishing them. the "chicago daily news," the "chicago tribune" and so forth. i don't know about what you're talking about but it seems right. >> the editorial independence that he had, how common do you think in the american press and secondly, do you think his successor now has that at the "post"? >> the independence that herb has i think is unprecedented. i would find it very, very rare. i can't speak for the whole journalistic business and so forth.
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but i think it's extremely rare, particularly, the cartoonists who are a part of the ownership -- the cartoon usually -- as i say you go to the editorial board meeting and you decide what's in the editorial and the cartoon reflects that. i was interviewed this afternoon -- somebody is doing a biography of mary. who was another one i loved until the day she died and we i told her i was coming here and they were great friends. mary had complete freedom to write what she wanted. very rare. i was given freedom when i was on the star and the "post" rare. i think it's a rare thing today. i think it's harder today. that's the other thing. the lesson of herb -- as our conversation this afternoon about mary, he said could anybody have that kind of freedom today? and what's going to happen in the future? will there be mary and herblocks? i said i don't know if there
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isn't we don't have a country. because it's that voice of independence, that courageousness to take on, to go against the grain, to capture and draw and define a moment. you don't have to agree with it at all but that's the essence -- that's what journalism or criticism ought to be. whether it's in the form of cartoons, or writing, or television or talking or commentary, that's what we would -- we would miss that. and i can't believe perhaps naively that we lost that. i want to believe that it's still there. >> haynes i think i want to begin to go where you started to go in this last answer. but first, i just want to say that we ought to remember that all the proceeds to this -- the sales of the book and your own pro bono contribution -- >> yeah, i didn't take any money. >> it all goes to the foundation. >> first time in my life i never took money for writing something. [laughter] >> welcome to the club.
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[laughter] >> but you think about herblock or and you think about the decline of journalism as we once knew it. and particularly the decline of media, not necessarily journalists. and how do you -- will you reflect and tell us where you think things ought to go? certainly the impact of the downey shutzson report was a way of stirring things up. we know there's civic illiteracy in the country. and one of the things that the major newspapers had where they were gatherers. they helped -- everyone read the same thing. >> right. >> this is a lot different from the fragmentation we see on the blogosphere and an absence of deliberation. >> yeah, i think you've really captured what speaks to my heart and my concern. and all of us, i think, that we are in a very different challenging time.
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it's very hard to have a clear voice on things particularly with the 24-hour shouting heads inspiring hatred and fear and driving divisions in the country. it's hard to get your message through. but i in the long run -- and i don't know what the form of journalism is going to be. nobody can quite tell you. there are all these studies and all this -- we all sit around and look at our navals. but i'm confident of this, we have great talents in this country and we have people who are great writers, great critics and artists and so forth and there are great problems. and those are the canvass -- those are the kinds of opportunities to speak to those questions. however you do it. and it may not be in the realm of the daily newspaper, although, i don't think that the newspaper -- it may be just online. i don't think it's going to disappear. it's going to be different.
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i worry that we are so divided that you have great commentary and great stuff over here. and here you have nothing but hate. and fear. and spewing out misinformation. so it's a challenge to everybody including the political process to take on the haters, the liars, et cetera, et cetera. and much as i have admired obama, i don't think he's been strong enough myself. but that's a whole other sideline here. mentioned in this period. because it really is important. and i think we were talking earlier -- i watched -- if you watched last friday, this extraordinary meeting in front of the capitol of the united states where on the steps were all the members of the republican house, the house members. these are elected representatives. and in front of them were these protesters, tea baggers and whatever you call them. and what you heard from those
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republican members -- they sponsored that lie. they didn't just encourage it but they sponsored that and what you heard was the most incredible venomous hatred spewing out. these were representatives of the united states of america, the solid en banc of the house. i think it's very dangerous for us. i'm being very political here saying that. i worry about that.7÷o but i don't worry about great talent. the '20s created great writers amidst great constantlies. -- scandals. we have great artists and musicians. it's finding the vehicle for it. and encouraging and celebrating those that go against the grain. that's what we have to do and take advantage of that. >> i'm curious about his preparation.
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i'm sure -- even though he didn't talk to the editorial staff that it didn't come out of thin air. did he read a million newspapers a day? did he talk to the news staff? how were his ideas formed? as brilliant and as concerned about important issues as he was didn't come -- >> there's somebody who worked for herb right there, sarah, talk about it. but herb's office was the biggest mess you ever saw in your life. papers all over the place. and mess here and there. and he was following stuff all the time. he would tell me he'd stay up -- did you listen to so-and-so night line -- i said no i went to bed. oh, i watch it every night. he was incredibly -- he was a terrific reporter among other things. and he would as i said earlier -- he would go around to the people that he respected the beat people who had specialties. he wanted to make sure it was right and not the point of view he was going to take. but he wanted to make sure it
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was correct. so he had -- he was a great critic. he was a great reporter. and also a great cartoonist. but it was a fascinating process. and then finally to produce those rough -- i still am astonished at that. and he did. year after year. [inaudible] >> yeah, they'd be totally different sketches. and of them might appear on and we have some of those roughs, don't we? [inaudible] >> 5 to 10. >> yeah. >> you know, maybe three were on the same subject with different captions or whatever. but part of the morning was to put the foreign newspapers out, the magazines. he was checking the news on the radio, on the tv and just absorbing all the time. >> yeah. when i used to do television all the time, i watched you last night and we would talk about it.
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he was that kind of a guy. he was absolutely determined to try to figure out and listen to what was happening and then decide for himself and had the freedom to do it. >> i bet he loved c-span. >> oh, he watched c-span. he did, yeah. anybody else? well, you're very nice to come out on a rainy night. and i thank you very much. it was great. [applause] >> haynes johnson won a pulitzer prize for distinguished national reporting of the civil rights movement in selma, alabama. mr. johnson is the author of sleepwalking through history: america in the reagan years and the battle for america 2008. he cowrote herblock with carry katz. for more information visit herblockfoundation.org. >> we're at frostburg state university speaking with thomas a. lewis author of brace for
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impact. tom, to start off with, what do you see as the major threats to our current way of living? >> well, that's the content of most of the book. it's a long list. what i did was organize it into the threats that i see gathered against our systems that sustain us. i look into food, both the food that we grow and the animals that we raise. i look into water, the supply of water and the treatment of wastewater. and energy. oil and electricity. and each of those categories is of a system that has been increasingly industrialized and is increasingly in peril of failing. mortal stress on all of those systems. and usually people don't look at them all at one time. you get people specializing in electricity. well, one of the things about electricity is that it takes three times as much water to get you the electricity to your home that you use than it does the water that you use, you know?
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so the electricity has an impact on water. so i tried to gather in one place these threats and their dimension. and here's the central premise. when we industrialize food, industrialize water, industrialize electricity, we have this relentless search for economy of scale. we get bigger so the units get cheaper. well, there's a dark twin to economy of scale and its concentration of risk and everything we do to get bigger to produce more and cheaper stuff concentrates and worsens risk. now the risk in all these enterprises has gone global and mortal. and what i've done here that few other books dealing with this subject do, is i faced up to the the inevitable conclusion we can't save the industrial society. it's going to go down. but the perverse thing is we don't need to go down with it. it's very simple for anyone who wants to survive what's coming,
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but it's not possible to save everybody from what's coming. >> what's the timeline for this? >> well, that's like predicting the great earthquake in los angeles. and it's a pretty good comparison. we all know -- all scientists know that there's going to be a catastrophic earthquake along the san andreas in los angeles and another along the hayward in san francisco. there's no doubt about that. i mean, even fox tv doesn't go and get somebody who thinks it's all a hoax when they discuss it. we know it's coming. when is an entirely different matter. it's momentarily in geologicalic team. we don't have long-term vision in our discussion with these things. i have a whole chapter on apocalypse when as i title it. and i compare it to trying to forecast earthquakes. you can't. there's no date. but when you look at each of the threats and you see the degree
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to which they have intensified and the utter lack of response to them by any agency of our government, by any leader, then you know that it's inevitable. >> so the inevitable decline as you describe it, is that something that was -- >> not a decline. a crash. >> is that something that could possibly be scaled back by government intervention? >> it could have been. i mean, we all -- we who were activists in the '80s really thought we had a chance and i think we did have a chance then. if the urgency had been recognized then, it was known then. i mean, the science was there. we knew where things were headed. and if somebody, anybody -- any institution whether political or financial had accepted the threat and had started to confront it then, we would have had a chance. i don't think it can be done
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now. the only shred of hope for the overall avoidance of this crash is that if people get scared enough -- and i'm not just trying to scare people. i'm just trying to follow logic to its conclusions, but if enough of us made the choice to save ourselves through sustainable living -- i mean, not sustainable development. i don't mean green wash. i don't mean any of the industrial solutions that are being embraced and called sustainable. they're not sustainable. i mean, true sustainable living -- if enough of us decide, you know i want to save myself and my family and started to do that, then we could conceivably shift the paradox. i'm what i call in the book an age optimist. my fond hope is that i die before it happens. and i've got a good chance. >> so what are the steps that people can take to survive the crash then? >> well, you have to get serious about sustainable living.
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i mean, you have to -- i call the -- the last chapter in the book is called sanctuary. you cannot be sustainable in any city right now. it's too late for that. and it won't happen. so you've got to find a piece of ground where you can grow your own food. and you can produce your own energy, where you use it. i mean, we have all this talk about a smart grid. the only smart grid is no grid at all. i mean, this is technology that somebody said has been around for 100 years and you still can't do better than strings on sticks. i mean, it's not the electricity is the problem. it's the transmitting over long distances but you have to produce where you use it. and you can get tremendously consistency. it's living a totally different life. and some people will say not everybody can do it. i know.

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